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July 23, 2021

Essential First Aid Tips for Cats

  • Cat Safety
  • Cat Health
  • Cat
NF - Blog Image - Woman in orange shirt scratching orange cat on table

Cats are mischievous and curious creatures. They need to reach the highest shelf, fit into the tiniest space, ingest things not meant for consumption, and play with objects that aren’t toys. When you live with a cat it’s important to be familiar with basic first aid for cats. However, always remember to call your vet in case of injuries or concerns.

Prevention

Prevention is key so, unless supervised, keep your cat indoors. Use pet friendly products that are nontoxic if ingested and will not cause chemical burns if they come into contact with skin. Familiarize yourself with which foods, plants, and even essential oils can be toxic to cats. Do not leave breakable items anywhere your cat can reach them. Check your washer and dryer before using them. Keep an eye on your cat so you can recognize signs of illness or injury and prepare a First Aid Kit for your feline companion so you are ready if anything should happen.

Read more: Which Plants Are Poisonous to Cats?

Items in a Feline First Aid Kit

Keeping the following items on hand will help you to be prepared for the most common injuries:

Essential Cat First Aid Kit Items:

  • Elizabethan collar
  • Cotton wool, swabs, and absorbent gauze
  • Sterile Saline Solution
  • Bandages
  • Surgical tape
  • Blunt end or curved scissors
  • Topical antibiotic ointment

Basic First Aid for Cats

When dealing with an injured cat, the most important first step is to stay calm. This will help you assess the situation better, soothe your feline friend, and administer cat first aid correctly. A panicked feline can unintentionally harm you or aggravate her own injuries.

If needed, and only if it will not injure your cat any further, you can restrain her by wrapping her in a towel, putting an Elizabethan collar on, or placing her in a well-padded carrier.

Once you have the situation, and your cat, under control you can assess the extent of the injuries, decide what type of first aid will be required, and administer it. If you can call someone for assistance, do so. It is always easier to handle an injured animal with the help of another person. Remain focused and composed to avoid mistakes, cause unnecessary pain, or inflict additional injuries.

When you have stabilized your cat, take her to a vet right away. Provide the vet with as much information as possible. What happened, how it happened, and what steps you took.

Most Common Cat Injuries

Choking

Signs of choking include gagging, retching, and pawing at the mouth. Try to remove the object with your hands or you can also hold the cat firmly by her hind legs and hang her upside down. DO NOT shake the cat. If neither works you will need to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Once the object is dislodged, check your cat to see if she is breathing. If not, place your cat on her side as straight as possible, gently pull the tongue forward and perform Rescue Breathing. If there is no heartbeat you will also need to do CPR.

Try to remove the object with your hands or you can also hold the cat firmly by her hind legs and hang her upside down. DO NOT shake the cat. If neither works you will need to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
Magda Romanow headshot
Magda RomanowShelter Owner

Detailed instructions for the Heimlich maneuver, Rescue Breathing, and CPR are available online.

Eye Injuries

If there is a foreign object in the eye, wrap your cat in a towel and flush the eye with saline. If the eye is perforated or prolapsed, do not flush it. Put a paper cup over it and tape it into place.

Electrocution

If your cat has bitten through a cord, it is crucial that you shut off the electricity to the outlet to which the cord is connected. If possible, shut off the main breaker. If not, then unplug the cord wearing rubber gloves. If your cat is conscious go to the vet right away, if not then begin Rescue Breathing and/or CPR.

Broken Bones

If the bone is visible, gently cover it with gauze soaked in a saline solution to protect it from infection. Broken bones often cause shock so keep your cat calm and warm. You may need to take your carrier apart, so you don’t hurt your cat trying to put her in through the carrier door. A box will also work. If someone can drive you to the vet, you can sit with your cat and gently restrain her.

Burns

If the burn covers a small area of the body, submerge the affected area in lukewarm water for 5 to 10 minutes. If the burn covers a large part of the body place cool, damp cloths on the burns. Do not submerge as that may cause shock. Cover injured areas loosely with gauze and tape into place. Chemical burns need to be flushed with water for 5 to 10 minutes after you have removed the chemical from the skin.

Bleeding

Find the area that is bleeding, put gauze directly on the wound, and apply firm pressure. If the gauze becomes soaked add new gauze over top, do not remove the original gauze. A clot may be forming underneath and removing the gauze may dislodge the clot. Try to elevate the injured area so it’s above the cat’s heart. Make a thick bandage by rolling up more gauze, put it over the wound, and tape it into place. Again, keep your cat warm and calm to avoid shock.

Internal Bleeding

There are times when a cat suffers a trauma but appears to be fine. There are no broken bones or bleeding. If the accident were extreme enough where one would expect to see injuries, but none are visible, take your cat to the vet. There is a chance that your cat has internal bleeding and that can be fatal if not treated right away. There is no cat first aid for internal bleeding, but as always keep your cat calm, warm, and as still as possible.

The key with all these tips is to stabilize your cat before getting them to the vet for proper medical attention. If in doubt, always call the experts.


Author

Magda Romanow headshot

Magda Romanow

Shelter Owner

Magda has been involved with animal rescue groups for 22 years. She opened up her own cat shelter 18 years ago and it has grown tremendously ever since. Katie’s Place specializes in hard to place cats. They are a “last chance” shelter. The shelter is always full, as is her home.